In your impressive list of career achievements, what do you personally see as your greatest achievement?
During the course of my career in the hospital industry, I have been fortunate enough to have accomplished numerous corporate milestones and goals. However, launching TIME Hotels Management and developing the brand to where it is today has been my greatest achievement to date. As the CEO, I have had the pleasure of watching the company grow exponentially across the region in the course of three years; we are now at a total of 10 operating properties between UAE and Egypt with an additional four properties slated to open across the GCC by 2017.
Was there anyone in particular who inspired you early in your career? What did you find so inspiring about this role model to drive you towards success?
Earlier in my career, I worked alongside the room division manager at Jolie Ville Moevenpick Hotel in Egypt. He advised me on taking immediate calculated actions and decisions and to not postpone activities, I credit that direction as the one that helped me become a more effective and efficient decision maker.
What have been the greatest lessons you have learned about the hospitality business, since you started almost three decades ago?
Team members are the most vital asset to any hotel chain. Empowering personnel and attending to their concerns, listening to their suggestions and ensuring you reward them for their hard work will result in a healthy working environment – which will reflect positively on the hotel.
What significant changes have you noticed in the hospitality industry over the past twenty to thirty years, and where do you see the industry heading?
The industry has evolved rapidly over the past two decades, with technology at the forefront of the way we live and operate on a day-to-day basis. In this day and age, guests can read reviews, take virtual tours and book hotel stays all with the click of a button. This has effected the number of walk-in guests, who now rely on information technology to assess and make a decision according to their preferences. The hospitality industry is a competitive market where you always have to stay ahead of the game, keeping up-to-date with technology trends and finding out how to retain guest loyalty is just one example.
The general public are also becoming much savvier when it comes to healthy foods and keeping fit. Hotels are now having to source organic ingredients or local produce to ensure it is fresh and ethically grown.
In your bio, it is mentioned that while at Al Monshar Rotana in Kuwait City, you set new standards of hospitality. What were these standards, and why did you find them important to your business?
I spearheaded the creation of hotel policies and procedures across different departments. Policies and procedures are critical and necessary for employees to clearly understand their roles and responsibilities within predefined limits and allow management to guide operations without constant intervention.
In your opinion, what should a hotel do in order to be considered a quality place for guests to stay?
Hotels need to go above and beyond best practices. They need to offer guests an impeccable experience including everything from comfort, to facilities and service – it is not enough to merely meet expectations, it is about exceeding them.
Your leap to the head of the company is quite impressive. What was special about your vision at TIME Hotels that promoted you from Area Vice President to CEO in just five years? How did your experience in other positions in international hotels, such as Rooms Division Manager, General Manager, and Area Vice President help you in your relatively new role as CEO?
Our vision was to set a presence for TIME Hotels in every capital city in the Middle East and North Africa and then move forward to become a well reputed brand across the globe. During my time as Area Vice President, I oversaw the whole operational progression of the general manager, assigning developmental and progression plans and researched new opportunities for constant global expansion.
What kind of advice can you give to ambitious professionals who wish to climb the career ladder as you did?
The best piece of advice is to love what you do and immerse yourself in the business. Ambition and drive are two characteristics that are important in any business but particularly in the hospitality industry where no two days are ever the same.
What is special about TIME Hotel management that separates it from your competitors?
TIME Hotels is built on the philosophy “You Really Matter!” meaning that everyone associated with the TIME brand has a fundamental role in the success of the hotel chain and therefore is an integral part of our award winning team. This credo and understanding has driven the team to best assist and attend all guest requests and needs to make their stay a memorable experience.
What goals do you have for the future of TIME Hotels?
TIME Hotels is a new brand; a number of plans and projects are in the pipeline and will be revealed over the next three years, including expansion and diversification of brand portfolio in the UAE with a five star property and TIME Express hotels, inauguration of TIME hotel properties in Qatar, and more properties in Egypt.